NASCAR Winston Cup Series rookie points leader Ryan Newman prepared his No. 12 Alltel Ford for the series' season finale during a two-day test at Kentucky Speedway.

Newman, who enters the final series event with a 20-point lead over Jimmie Johnson in the rookie points standings, has driven his No. 12 Alltel Ford to one win, 14 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes through 35 starts. He stands seventh in the overall series points standings and is only 23 points out of third place.

"The last time I was here was in an ARCA race and I won it," Newman said of his first visit to Kentucky Speedway since 2000. "I'm just trying to get some laps and figure some things out with the car. Our qualifying efforts have been really great, we just need to keep working on our race things. We're going to tracks where we haven't had a ton of experience, especially in Winston Cup cars, so we're trying to get principles and ideas put together as far as what makes it right and what makes it wrong."

The 25-year-old also has earned six pole awards, the most on the circuit this season, and has started on the pole in three of the past four series races. He expects to finish the season on a high note after dropping from fourth to seventh in the series standings following his 18th-place finish last Sunday.

"It's definitely exciting," Newman said. "We've got a lot to gain and last week we had a lot to lose. Hopefully we can get it back and finish in the third position, which is our goal. We're out there to win, that's what it's all about."

Newman was cautiously optimistic about ending his season as the NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie-of-the-Year.

"Winning rookie-of-the-year would be a dream come true, but it's not just who's best in 17 races. There's a panel of voters, too, so we'll see how things go in that respect."

The 2003 Kentucky Speedway season begins May 9-10 when the ARCA RE/MAX Series makes its only appearance at the speedway for "The Channel 5-205." The race will feature the return of the first four-time champion in ARCA history, Frank Kimmel, who has won three of the last four series events at Kentucky Speedway.

Season ticket packages are on sale now and can be reserved by calling 1-888-652-RACE. Single event ticket sales begin Monday, January 6, 2003. Phone Kentucky Speedway or visit www.kentuckyspeedway.com for details.

- Kentucky Speedway -